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4.6 out of 5 stars21
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2008
Spread the word, there's a new lady in town: Esperanza Spalding, and she's bringing her 'A' game to the area of music called Jazz. And what a refreshing brew it is. Using her skills as a bassist, accompanied by her brilliant voice, which can be heard in three languagues (English, Portuguse & Spanish), this her sophomore presentation, is a mature offering for one so young (she's 23)
What I love about this CD is the variety on offer. You have straight on jazz, a samba selection, and a soulful selection, all wrapped into one CD.
The bonus that Ms Spalding has is that along with her skills as a bassist, she has a great voice, that I would imagine, along with her looks, would make her a marketing dream. But she still has to deliver the goods, and she does: form the soulful' I Know that you know', the quiet stormish ' Fall In', the sambaish' I Adore You', and the haunting 'Samba Em Preludio, which I couldn't get out of my head the to name just a few of the highlights of this CD. This is a solid set that should make this young lady a star, if there's any justice in the music world. My CD of the year thus far
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on 29 July 2008
I have to say that I saw and heard Ms Spalding sing and play the guitar and bass at the Pori Jazz festival, Finland, several weeks' ago. What a talent! This album is filled with fantastic jazz tunes such as I know you know and Precious. The only downside for me was the fact that the song "Jazz" is not on this album. This is a song she performed at Pori. A stunning album nevertheless! Hats off to Ms Spalding!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on 18 December 2010
This is the only disc i have had the pleasure of owning by this young jazz artist.She is very adept at covering a wide range of styles and ,although principally a jazz artist offers shades of r&b into her repertoir, and has a soulful voice that marries her double-bass playing perfectly.In turns Esperanza is funky,trad-jazz or late-night smoke filled smooth jazz.Perfect for a dinner party,but probably too good to be used for background music.Some of the material is sung in a foreign language,but don't let that put you off,she is never less than captivating and would probably be great to see live.I recently read praise for her from rodrigo y gabriela which is recommendation enough from such virtuoso guitarists.Excellent stuff.I will buy more without hesitation!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 November 2012
Four and a half ENJOYABLE Stars!! A star is born! On her second CD (billed as a debut, but the successful CD Junjo is already out there) Esperanza Spalding, the petite young lady with the spectacular afro hairdo, is revealed as a 23 year-old jazz phenom who is packing a triple whammy: she has a lithe and lovely golden-toned voice; has prodigious, fleet-fingered double bass technique; and produces artful musical compositions and lyrics. And she often uses them simultaneously in a spellbinding manner, sometimes singing in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and in what can only be described as 'Esperanza-ese'. Ms Spaldilng has appeared in DownBeat magazine, performs at jazz festivals, and has played with mentoring heavyweights such as Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, and Joe Lovano. And at age 20 and already an alumna, she was the second youngest faculty member at the prestigious Berklee College of Music (a teenaged Metheny was the youngest).

The 'best of the best' begins with a bouyant version of Milton Nascimento's classic about a place called "Ponta de Areia" (Sand Bridge) built over a repetitive piano-bass figuration with her voice soaring above it all backed by Gretchen Parlato. "Fall In {Love}" and "I Know You Know" show her wonderful ballad and uptempo singing abilities, respectively. "Cuerpo and Alma" (a double-timed Spanish language version of the classic "Body and Soul") based on Ms Spaldings eight-note bass motif is sweetly and poignantly sung featuring a hard-driving Tynerish piano solo by Leo Genovese: and the concept works. And her pizzicato bass playing throughout the CD is very impressive, especially the 'tour de force' "Mela" where she scores big on both bass solo and a soaring, swooping vocal solo. Donald Harrison's sinuous sax, Ambrose Akinmusire's hot trumpet, ace guitarist Niño Josele, the percussive fireworks of Jamey Haddad & "El Negro" Hernandez, Gretchen Parlato's & Theresa Perez' background vocals, and Otis Brown's protean drumming contribute mightily to this excellent session. Esperanza Spalding is a rising jazz star and this recording is Highly Recommended. Four and a half MARVELOUS Stars. (This review is based on an MP3 download. Since this 2008 review, she has won a Grammy and many DownBeat Jazz Poll Rising Star awards as both a singer, and both acoustical and electric bassist and is placing high in the main category basses and singing categories, and in 2012 she won the Jazz Artist of the Year and Jazz Album (for Radio Music Society [+Digital Booklet]) awards in the DownBeat Readers Poll.)
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on 1 May 2010
If anyone is willing to take a bet on the next most likely big name in jazz, surely bassist / singer Esperanza Spalding is worth a punt. Still only in her mid-twenties, she has already attracted much attention in the State and currently plays bass in Joe Lovano's band. Although not her first offering, this eponymous CD is her most profile and features her tight band of Leo Genovese' piano, Jamey Haddad's percussion and the drums of Otis Brown. On some of the tracks, this group is augmented by Donald Harrison's alto and the pithy trumpet of Ambrose Akinmusire with some tunes incorporating either backing vocals or multi-tracking. If this suggests a over-produced piece of pop-jazz, the edginess of much of this music quickly dispels this notion. The leader switches between acoustic and electric bass with equal facility.
The opening track is Milton Nascimento's beautiful "Ponta De Areia" which received a nice treatment and is a pretty strong opener. Elsewhere, the disc is essentially made up of Spalding originals which, by and large, tend to hit the spot, with "Fall in", a effort for voice and piano, demonstrating her craftsmanship as a songwriter. Much of the material has a Brazilian feel to it but with the kind of bite that marked Tania Maria's best work of the early 1980's such as "Come with me." This is typified by the likes of "I adore you" whose title belies its ebullience. Elsewhere, the only standard, "Body & Soul", is re-shaped with a boisterous vamp from the leader's bass and some Portuguese lyrics and emerges as probably one of the most original arrangements since John Coltrane's. This is one of the highlights of a very strong album and allows the band to stretch out in a fashion that will appeal to most, hardened jazz fans.
The lyrics are decidedly streetwise and the sentiments expressed are very much in line with much contemporary pop. A track like "She got to you" demonstrates that it is possible for a singer to remain thoroughly up-to-date without losing any of the toughness of jazz whereas "Precious" is a more obvious attempt to appeal to a wider audience with the fender Rhodes piano , vocal over-dubbing and some feisty feminist lyrics- a terrific tune though. In contrast, the largely instrumental "Mela" pits Spalding's wordless vocal in unison with a trumpet in the album's most strident and ultimately uncompromising track. This swinging post-bop track packs one of the biggest punches on the whole CD and demonstrates that just how tight the band is, the leader's bass entangling with the drums and the Argentine Leo Genovese contributing some tasty piano. "If that's true" illustrates just how hip-hop grooves have started to manifest themselves in jazz before mutating into a quintet outing for trumpet, alto, bass and drums with the stripped down nakedness of the group exposes Spalding's willingness to mix up the rhythm since the pianist only plays during his solo.

In summary, this is a hugely impressive record where Esperanza Spalding proves herself very much to be a force on the various basses as well as singer / songwriter likely to attract listeners from outside jazz without any concessions to the integrity of the music. With there already a plethora of singers of the jazz scene, for once here is a musician who sounds like she belongs in 2009. Clearly, Esperanza Spalding is already a major talent and whilst her appearance at Vienne this year was one of the festival highlights, there seems little doubt that this is one of the most exciting records by a young artist I have heard this year.
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on 8 December 2012
Despite her Grammy recognition following the release of "Chamber Music Society" and her masterful jazz-pop crossover follow-up, "Radio Music Society", this eponymous album, being only her second as a solo artist, remains for me the one that truly showcases the full range of the extraordinary musical talents this girl has to offer.

It could be said that this album is essentially her "Latin" album. The rhythms, harmonies and even lyrics (many of them are in Spanish and Portuguese) are clearly inspired by the diverse musical cultures of Latin America. But to label it as a 'genre' album completely fails to convey the vast range of musical expression on offer. Yes, there is a strong latin vibe running through the album, but there are also dreamy and soulful ballads in the form of "Fall In" and "Espera", infectious and groovy soul-pop songs such as "I Know You Know", "She Got to You" and "Precious" , and frankly dangerous extended improvs/ jazz freak-outs such as those in the downright 'bad' "Mela".

The musicianship of her band-mates on this album should not be understated either. Every individual and group performance is simply world class. All in all, this is a modern jazz classic.

Whilst "Radio Music Society" can certainly be lauded as a skilful and ultimately successful attempt at writing jazz songs in a pop song framework, for anyone looking for a 'catch-all' introduction to Esperanza's music, this is the one to get.
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on 19 August 2011
Esperanza Spalding is an exciting new artist on the jazz scene and her second album "Esperanza" is a testament to her immense talent. This album is very refreshing and vibrant. On this release, there is a more distinct Latin influence that blends so well with the jazz accompaniments.

"Ponta De Areia" is a very uplifting mid-tempo jazz track with a sweet melody and vocals. "I Know You Know" follows with a similar vibe and oozes style and class. "Fall In" is a very beautiful romantic ballad. "I Adore You" is an addictive fast paced track with the effective use of scat. "Cuerpo Y Alma" has an exclusive jazz sound where Esperanza uses her bass very successfully. "She Got To You" and "Mela" are infectious jazzy fast paced tracks and "Precious" is a lovely groovy ballad. "Love To You" is a slick mid-tempo track and "Espera" is an attractive moody composition. "If That's True" is a strong mainly instrumental song and the final track "Samba Em Preludio" is a lovely dreamy Latin infused ballad.

"Esperanza" is another solid effort from Esperanza Spalding and contains only strong songs. She is a breathe of fresh air in the jazz genre and a really interesting new artist. This album deserves 4 stars for quality and originality.
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on 14 May 2011
If you only buy one modern jazz album this has to be the one. Esperanza is a classically trained musician, playing jazz with other extraordinarily talented classical musicians. To my ear, the fusion creates a level of depth and interest which is second to none. The combination of melody, harmony and rhythm is absolutely mesmerizing and each time you listen you will hear something new and exciting. I have been following ES for about 9 months now and was lucky enough to see her live at the Barbican in April this year (2011). Her stage presence is amazing and I have made sure I have tickets for her next London gig in July. Ok she's only 24 and that makes her talent even more surprising. But the fact is her age is irrelevant other than as a reason for even more additional admiration. The fact is that this and her other albums are all stupendous, whatever her age.
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on 19 June 2016
I have been listening to this amazing woman on and off for about a year and I finally took the decision to buy this CD and was not disappointed, tho I find Radio Music Society a far more accessible set. That doesn't take away any credit from this CD it just took me longer to get into the groove of her style on this piece. She is one clever lady with such a diverse approach to her craft. Her intelligence as a musician and singer is just like no other. Modern Jazz in it's finest moments.....I believe even new people who are tinkering into listening to jazz for the first time should not overlook this woman. I would certainly recommend Radio Music Society as a first choice to get into her growing body of work.
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on 17 April 2009
...that this lady is only 24! esperanza plays wonderfully groovy and quick-fingered basslines and she sings and scats and with such verve and passion that these skills each on its own would justify dozens of records by her. but this seemingly effortless and natural combination of both is absolutely breathtaking. she's got her very own take on traditional jazz, blended with latin and soul that sounds fresh and inspiring each second of the record.
as I said, hard to believe that she's only 24.

6 out of 5 stars!

now, get the album!
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